Reflections On International Women’s Day: MOTHERHOOD, WORK-LIFE BALANCE IN A PANDEMIC WORLD

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.‚Ķ.It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
-Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would become a full-time employee and homeschool teacher at the same time. I am not going to deny it, but this was probably one of the most difficult things I ever had to endure. I was exhausted and anxious to say the least. It was definitely challenging trying to work and navigate online learning, but somehow, we survived it. As much as I was frustrated with the situation, I was fortunate in a sense where I had a very supportive spouse, employer and a network of friends online to talk to. The majority of people that I talked to regarding the school closure situation were actually women and I think everyone had the same feelings that I had. We all shared the same worries about our children’s future, we all vented to each other with how challenging it was to teach and work at the same time and how we were all worried about the mental health of our children and ourselves. At the time, I felt it was so important to advocate for the safe return to school and in doing so, I realized it was a very empowering and meaningful experience.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has brought out many inequalities within society, namely within racial, ethnic and indigenous communities, refugees and women. Women, who bare the burden of most household responsibilities, have been negatively impacted as a result of school and daycare closures. This in turn negatively impacts the workforce, creating an even greater gender divide on the economy. But the silver lining in all this is that women’s rights and equity have come to the spot light and change is happening: the conversation has started. In a post-pandemic world, we really need to ask ourselves how can we better support women? I believe the answer is simple.

Everything starts in the home:

I truly believe that any conversation must start within ourselves and within our homes. As parents, we need to start having conversations with our children regarding the value of women within society and provide them with the perspective of the world through the lens of a woman. Education is a key element in teaching our children about the values of gender equality as an important role within a democratic society.

Advocacy and support:

Continuing to advocate for things such as paid leave during an emergency for example or more equitable workplaces are important policies that would help women. Providing women with support, for example, during motherhood, could be extremely beneficial towards women who, for instance, want to further themselves in their careers. Today there is an array of online support groups and outreach services available within many communities to help serve women in such situations. I am also seeing more and more platforms on social media supporting women in various roles of society. It’s important that we continue to advocate for things such as parental leave, child care leave, flexible work schedules to help women move forward.

Supporting women through business:

Today, many women are taking on the roles of becoming business owners and entrepreneurs, however, only a small percentage of women are CEO’s throughout the world. According to Catalyst, although the number of women CEO’s have gone up in 2020, “there are still nearly 13 companies run by a man for every company run by a woman.” However, more and more women are stepping up to the challenge and starting their own business ventures. Today, I ask you to look around in your own communities and go out and support businesses owned by women. Even doing something small, such as tagging a female-owned business on Instagram or picking up a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop run by women, can go a long way in showing our support for women in business. Women supporting women is a very powerful thing!

Celebrating women:

Celebrating women’s empowerment doesn’t have to be only on one day, but rather should happen everyday and there are small things we can do to help celebrate women. Maybe its contributing towards a charity that is geared towards the empowerment of women or learning about an important historical figure within the women‚Äôs rights movement. We can also honour the women in our own lives, such as a parent, grandparent, a teacher or a friend.

In summary, given all the hardships that we have been through this past year, if anything, I have learned that as a woman and as a mother, I am strong, I am resilent and I am fearless. Not only will I continue to advocate for my children, but I will advocate for all women, to help create a more just society.

“Seven year itch” only got me itching for you

Reflections as we enter year seven of love and marriage and some babies in the carriage

I will never forget when I first got engaged my Strina Ika told me that “marriage is not all roses.” I couldn’t help but laugh at that statement. ¬†For those who know my beloved aunt well know she gives the best advice.¬†¬†Perplexed¬†by her comment, I didn’t quite understand what she meant by that statement. But what I can tell you for sure is that she always has the best intentions.¬†¬† At the time I thought, ah,¬†she’s just being a little silly.¬† Little did I know then….

Back “Then” ¬†Photo credit: Signature Design Photography

And then over the course of my marriage, I slowly started to understand what she meant by those words “marriage is not all roses.”

It was her way of telling me, it’s going to be hard work.¬† Like super hard work.¬†

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to scare you out of marriage, but I’m letting you know now that marriage isn’t easy:¬† it comes with ups and downs, highs and lows. ¬†Once you get married, your life changes dramatically, especially when finances and children are involved. ¬†Marriage takes a lot out of you and it consists of a lot of sacrifice and a ton of compromise.¬†¬† But in order for it to work, it has to go both ways.

In the many conversations I’ve had with my close girlfriends over the years is that marriage is tough.¬†¬† I mean, whenever I talk to my girlfriends it’s always the usual complaining about our husbands (and I’m sure they complain about us too).¬†¬†¬† However, I do believe that there is a way to survive all these little things (i.e. complaints, bickering, etc.) and still love each other and be a couple at the end of the day.¬†¬†Perhaps that’s the romantic in me but I do strongly believe that.¬†¬† With that being said, I know marriage is not for everyone and that’s okay too.¬†¬† I also understand that some marriages can’t continue through (for an array of reasons) and that is okay too.¬† Please know that I am just speaking from my own, personal experience.

I do consider myself extremely blessed because I did marry my best friend; we are so different and yet so alike in many ways. ¬†We do push each other’s buttons, we do have our disagreements…but at the end of the day, we mesh together so well!

I don’t believe in perfect. ¬†I don’t think any relationship is perfect. ¬†It can get messy, it can be hard. ¬†I admit, we do butt heads time to time, but over the years, we’ve learned how to talk things out and find a common ground. ¬† We still know how to have fun together. We still laugh, even when things get tough.¬†¬† Life throws you many curveballs at you and that can cause stress on a relationship. ¬†We’ve definitely had plenty thrown our way- residency, premature birth, high risk pregnancy, moving multiple times, major house renovation and a sudden death in our family, to name a few. ¬†We went though a lot ¬†in such a short period of time…. but we got through it together. ¬†

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Despite all the ups and downs, I wouldn’t have it any other way. ¬†Nor could have I gone through all these obstacles if he wasn’t by my side…and even though we get on each other’s nerves, we get through things together. ¬†We still hug each other every day; still kiss each other goodnight every day and make an effort to be ourselves around each other. ¬†It’s not easy, but what I’ve learned from seven years of marriage is that couples need to find a common ground: ¬†it’s about building trust, showing forgiveness and humility, and most importantly establishing good communication with one another and above all, being good role models to our children.¬† I also think tons of vino after a long day and cuddles on the couch helps too!

The other day we met up for lunch and I couldn’t help but look at him the same way I did during that first encounter we met well over 15 years ago. ¬†It’s that fire that still ignites in us and despite many challenges that come our way, we’ve become stronger together.

ŇĹivjeli sto godina…i viŇ°e…

“Now” Photo credit: Yellow Pear Studio

Taming the rollercoaster ride of parenthood

Doesn’t parenthood ever feel like a long, rollercoaster ride? Some days go so very smoothly and other days you feel completely derailed? Any parent can tell you that parenthood comes with its challenges, but that the rewards trump them all. I won’t dispute that fact. But sometimes I just can’t help but feel overwhelmed. Currently, my 2 year old does not want to go to sleep on time, despite being very tired and my oldest is still adjusting to junior kindergarten. My boys are very active throughout the day and sometimes I feel as if I am just holding the fort down.

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Lately, my days are spent running around, from 6:30 am until 11:30 pm. I just don’t stop. Ever. I keep trying different things to keep my stress levels at bay- going to the gym, trying to eat better, trying to sleep earlier, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen, or that I am not consistent. Its so much easier to just crash right? Sometimes I try and be a supermom and do it all – work, cook, clean, raise two little boys, take them to their activities, all while trying to take care of myself and have some type of relationship with my husband.

Sometimes I am conflicted: Am I making excuses for myself or am I truly at a roadblock?

I often wonder- how do people do it? Do others feel as tired as I do? Am I doing something wrong here? Sometimes I feel guilty for not working out or eating properly because its so much easier to have that glass of wine at the end of a long week than go to spin class. Sometimes I feel like there’s just not enough time throughout the day and that other tasks are more important, such as preparing lunches, cleaning, laundry…. With that being said, I am not trying to throw a pity party for myself. Instead, I am trying to tell myself its okay to feel like this and its okay to try to step back and regroup. Perhaps I am at a crossroads in my life and trying to accept myself for who I am and tell myself that its okay to feel this way and know that I am doing my best.

When I was young, my parents made it seem easy, or maybe, it just felt like that because I was after all, a small kid. I often wonder, did my mom feel overwhelmed like myself? Were my parents ever worn-out and tired? I don’t remember them being this way, rather, I remember them as loving parents who did their best to raise my brother and I. They gave me a wonderful childhood which I am so ever grateful for. My hope is that one day my children will look back at my husband and I and say that we did a good job too.